Former president had enduring legacy in the Middle East
Mideast reshaped by Bush’s victory
AL-JAHRA, Kuwait — On the outskirts of Kuwait City, the love Kuwaitis have for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush could be seen in 2016 on a billboard one Bedouin family put up to announce their son’s wedding.
That son being Bush alWidhan, born in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, which saw U.S.-led forces expel the occupying Iraqi troops of dictator Saddam Hussein.
With Bush’s death, his legacy across the Middle East takes root in that 100-hour ground war that routed Iraqi forces. That war gave birth to the network of military bases America now operates across the Persian Gulf supporting troops in Afghanistan and forces fighting against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
However, Bush ultimately would leave the Shiite and Kurdish insurgents he urged to rise up against Saddam in 1991 to face the dictator’s wrath alone, leading to thousands of deaths.
Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990.
“This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait,” Bush famously warned.
On Feb. 24, 1991, U.S. troops and their allies stormed into Kuwait. America suffered only 148 combat deaths during the whole campaign, while over 20,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed.
Bush’s decisions in the 1991 war and its aftermath echo even now.
Defense agreements with Gulf nations then grew into a series of major military installations across the region. And the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, home to the Muslim world’s holiest sites, served as a chief complaint of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.